Is It Legal To Fly With Marijuana? http://bit.ly/1zN3eqw
With the holiday season approaching, travelers likely have lots of questions about the rules set out by the TSA. Is mascara a liquid?
Does a cane count as a personal item? Are ice skates allowed on a plane? And most importantly: Can I fly with my legally obtained marijuana?
It’s relatively easy to find out that mascara does indeed count as a liquid, a cane is exempt from the personal item limit, and ice skates are allowed on carry-ons, but it can be much harder to find a straight answer about flying with marijuana.
Earlier this month citizens in Oregon and Alaska voted to join Colorado and Washington as the four states where retail marijuana is legal for adults over the age of 21. Washington, D.C. residents, meanwhile, voted for a “soft legalization” measure. (Vox has a great breakdown of the current state of marijuana legalization.) Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states as well as the District of Columbia. It’s used to treat conditions ranging from pain and nausea to Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other conditions. Patients who successfully apply for a medical marijuana card are allowed to possess a limited amount of the substance, which varies by state.
So how does that affect air travel?
THE BAD NEWS
Under federal law marijuana is an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic deemed to have a “high potential for abuse and no medical value.”
Federal law does not distinguish between medical and recreational marijuana—any form of the substance is illegal. Since airports, airspace, and airplanes all fall under federal jurisdiction, anyone found flying with medical marijuana is at risk of being detained, arrested, and prosecuted under federal law.
THE GOOD NEWS
Across the country once-strict policies are loosening and it seems the TSA is not immune to these changing attitudes. The official TSA policy states:
TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs. In the event a substance that appears to be marijuana is observed during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer. Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law. Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.
Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.